Boys Basketball: Hazleton Area defeats Dallas in battle of WVC unbeatens

By John Erzar - [email protected] | January 12th, 2018 11:32 pm - updated: 11:38 pm.

DALLAS TWP. — Every time Dallas would build momentum, Hazleton Area would dash it. Every time the home-court crowd would be whipped into a frenzy, it would be quelled.

The undefeated Cougars have been doing that all season. And they did it again Friday night.

As soon as Dallas would come within striking distance, Hazleton Area would pull away and did so for the final time in the fourth quarter for a 77-60 victory.

Hazleton Area (5-0 Div. 1, 9-0 overall) took over sole possession of first place in Division 1 of Wyoming Valley Conference basketball. Dallas fell to 4-1 in the division and 9-2 overall.

Dallas used the hot shooting of Jay Bittner and Alex Charlton to chop a 12-point deficit to 47-44 with 2:15 left in the third quarter. But like late in the second quarter when Dallas cut a 12-point deficit down to 26-23, Hazleton Area put another burst on.

Josh Samec hit a 3-pointer and Jeff Planutis finished off the third with a buzzer-beating layup, extending the Cougars’ lead to 52-44. Dallas opened the fourth with a three-point play by Nick Kocher, only to have the Cougars go on a 12-0 run to essentially seal the game.

“In the third quarter we had a little bit of a slump,” Planutis said. “Then in the fourth quarter, coach told us we had to pick it up a little bit and that’s what we did.”

Rebounding was big during the run as Da’Mir Faison, Samec and Planutis scored consecutive baskets after Hazleton Area limited Dallas to single shots in the offensive end.

“I thought the defense (was the key),” Hazleton Area coach Mike Joseph said about the 12-0 run. “We did a good job on Bittner, keeping him away from the hoop. But I thought we got out in transition. I kind of implored them to do that a little bit more at halftime because I thought we could have got the ball out a little bit and run in the first half and missed some opportunities.”

The 17-point margin of victory was Hazleton Area’s smallest since a 59-50 win over Scranton Prep to start the season.

Samec finished with 20 followed by Joey Grula, who scored 18 and added 13 rebounds. Faison had 17 and Planutis added 15.

“They are a very good team and our goal was to keep them off the boards,” Dallas coach Mark Belenski said. “I’m happy with the way we played. We got beat, but we’re in a building process and have a lot of season left. We’re going to learn from this and we’re not going away.”

Bittner finished with 23 and Charlton had 11 for the Mountaineers.

The teams will play again at Hazleton Area on Feb. 15, the final day of the regular season.

Berwick 64, Northwest 55

Alec Markle (16) and Damon Beckhorn (13) combined to score 29 points to power the Bulldogs past Northwest.

Beckhorn finished with a team-high four 3-pointers.

Jaxson Yaple scored a game-high 19 points, including a game-high five 3-pointers, for the Rangers. Sam Saxe added 13 points and Tyler Stevens finished with 10 in a losing effort.

Wyoming Valley West 71, Pittston Area 60

Draig Ruff scored a game-high 45 points to pace the Spartans.

Mason Mendygral chipped in with 13 points.

Pittston Area was paced by Naseem Guillaum (23) and Brian Miller (14).

Crestwood 44, Coughlin 31

Sean Murphy scored 15 points while Camden Boris and Ryan Petroski both scored nine as the Comets coasted past Coughlin.

The Crusaders were led by Aaron Bennett, who scored a team-high 13 points.

Hazleton Area 77, Dallas 60

HAZLETON AREA (77) – Josh Samec 9 2-2 23, Sparky Wolk 1 0-0 2, Jeff Planutis 7 0-2 15, Joey Grula 8 1-1 18, Da’Mir Faison 6 4-5 17, Andrew Vayda 0 0-0 0, Scott Shamany 1 0-0 2, Adrian Otero 0 0-0 0. Totals 32 7-10 77.

DALLAS (60) – Alex Charlton 5 0-0 11, Nick Kocher 2 1-1 6, Joey Parsons 3 0-0 7, Matt Mathers 3 2-4 8, Jay Bittner 10 2-3 23, Ben O’Connell 1 0-0 2, Brody Stickland 1 1-2 3. Totals 25 6-10 60.

Hazleton Area`21`14`17`25`—`77

Dallas`12`11`21`16`—`60

Three-point goals – HA 6 (Samec 3, Planutis, Grula, Faison), DAL 4 (Charlton, Kocher, Parsons, Bittner).

Berwick 64, Northwest 55

NORTHWEST (55) — Jaxson Yaple 6 2-2 19, Sam Saxe 4 3-3 13, Tyler Stevens 3 3-6 10, Bryce Koser 3 1-2 7, Walker Yaple 3 0-0 6, Matt Pierontoni 0 0-0 0, Matt Saxe 0 0-0 0, Marty Zugarek 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 9-13 55.

BERWICK (64) — Alec Markle 5 4-5 16, Damon Beckhorn 5 2-4 13, Zach Evans 2 4-4 9, Joe Norce 4 0-3 8, Ken Marshman 2 0-1 5, Jarret Groshek 1 2-3 4, Maliek McMillan 2 0-0 4, Connor Hanson 1 0-0 2, Kevin Tanribilir 1 0-0 2. Totals 23 12-20 64.

Northwest`18`12`9`16`—`55

Berwick`12`25`13`16`—`64

Three-point goals — NOR 8 (J. Yaple 5, S. Saxe 2, Stevens 1); BER 8 (Beckhorn 4, Markle 2, Marhsman 1, Evans 1).

Wyoming Valley West 71, Pittston Area 60

PITTSTON AREA (60) — Naseem Guillaum 8 6-10 23, Brian Miller 7 0-0 14, Keemar Woodruff 3 3-4 9, Matti McGlynn 3 0-0 8, Andrew Krawczyk 1 0-0 3, Sevion Leak 1 0-0 2, Trevor Tigue 0 0-0 0, Kolton Zafutto 0 0-0 0, Mik George 0 0-0 0, Logan Booth 0 0-0 0. Totals 23 10-17 60.

WYO. VALLEY WEST (71) — Draig Ruff 16 11-16 45, Mason Mendygral 4 2-2 13, Sammy Solomon 3 0-0 6, Austin Sienkiewicz 1 0-0 2, Devon Rhodes 1 0-1 2, Justus Simpson 0 2-2 2, Daviann Gonzalez 0 1-2 1, Danny Gibbons 0 0-0 0, Booker Kennedy 0 0-0 0. Totals 25 16-23 71.

Pittston Area`16`22`12`20`—`60

Wyo. Valley West`15`16`22`18`—`71

Three-point goals — PIT 4 (McGlynn 2, Guillaume 1, Krawczyk 1); WVW 5 (Mendygral 3, Ruff 2).

Crestwood 44, Coughlin 31

CRESTWOOD (44) — Sean Murphy 4 4-8 15, Camden Boris 1 7-7 9, Ryan Petroski 3 3-5 9, Mike Palmiero 2 1-2 6, Evan Knapp 2 0-2 5, Frank Casarella 0 0-0 0, Adam Gegaris 0 0 0-0 0, Jimmy Curry 0 0-0 0, Corey Chalk 0 0-0 0. Totals 11 15-24 44.

COUGHLIN (31) — Aaron Bennett 4 2-4 13, Tony Egidio 2 2-2 6, Dominique Flippen 2 0-0 4, Jahsim Hall 1 1-2 3, Shawn Valenzuela 2 1-2 4, Najeeb Bilal 0 0-0 0, Matt Edidio 0 0-0 0, Trent Zavada 0 0-0 0, Gavin Donahue 0 0-0 0. Totals 11 5-8 31.

Crestwood`16`16`5`7`—`44

Coughlin`6`10`9`6`—`31

Three-point goals — CRE 5 (Murphy 3, Knapp 1, Palmiero 1); COU 3 (Bennett 3).

Hazleton Area’s Jeff Planutis goes up for a basket against Dallas during the second quarter of Friday’s game.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/web1_da_hz1_faa-1.jpgHazleton Area’s Jeff Planutis goes up for a basket against Dallas during the second quarter of Friday’s game. Fred Adams | For Times Leader
Hazleton Area’s Jeff Planutis looks to pass the ball under tight defensive pressure by Brody Strickland of Dallas.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/web1_da_hz3_faa-1.jpgHazleton Area’s Jeff Planutis looks to pass the ball under tight defensive pressure by Brody Strickland of Dallas. Fred Adams | For Times Leader
Hazleton Area’s Josh Samec tries to pass the ball after falling to the floor.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/web1_da_hz4_faa-1.jpgHazleton Area’s Josh Samec tries to pass the ball after falling to the floor. Fred Adams | For Times Leader
Dallas’ Jay Bittner battled for a rebound against Hazleton Area’s Joey Grula, center, and Josh Samec.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/web1_da_hz2_faa-1.jpgDallas’ Jay Bittner battled for a rebound against Hazleton Area’s Joey Grula, center, and Josh Samec. Fred Adams | For Times Leader

By John Erzar

[email protected]

Reach John Erzar at 570-991-6394 or on Twitter @TLJohnErzar


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